External Forces – my choice for October reading

I have just finished a book in a genre I must admit I have gone off slightly. The reason for this fatigue might be that dystopia has become a bit like the vampire books a while ago – everything went vampiric. This is a YA/teenage novel I recommend to even the most blasé of readers with a ‘forget homework, housework or any kind of work and get on with it’.

Author: Deborah Rix

Title: External Forces (The Laws of Motion), published 2013


Desperate to avoid being ousted as a Deviant sixteen-year-old Jess joins the army together with her friend Jay. The Devotees share God’s work to secure genetically acceptable humans in a future America where the undesirables – the Deviants – disappear conveniently. But not everybody is happy with the way society is run and there are rumours about a group of people, The Red Hand, who oppose the authorities. Jess witnesses first hand the high price you have to pay for even asking questions and when she finds friendship and love in the shape of her Sergeant, Matt Anderson, she has to make up her mind whose side she is on.

I found the idea of a future society, where insight into genetic engineering marries religion to form ideology intriguing and believable. There is a mix of violence and romance in the book but also a huge part about friendship and the fear of not fitting in. The story is well developed and the characters are multi-layered to allow them come alive to tell their story in their own voices. Despite Jess being the main character – a shy girl who is suddenly exhibiting skills that single her out from all the other recruits – there are several others that leap out from the pages: Sheree, the strong and outspoken girl who takes Jess under her wing, remains my favourite.

This book felt like an inspiration among the flood of dystopian novels that have been published these last few years and it made for compulsive reading and I am looking forward to the sequel. To anyone who complains about sequels I want to add that as External Forces does not end on a cliffhanger it can be read on its own.